Recovery blog

Rosie MapplebeckSpecialcats News

Theres been some interest in my illness and recovery which is sweet so i thought i would infill a little more.
On 18/3 I had a stroke which was caused by a blood clot lodged in a vessel in my cerebellum. My blood pressure had been rising and I had seen the doctor before this time and received tablets to reduce this. I also had had a blinding headache for about 2 weeks which is unusual for me. My heart was beating so loudly it would waken me from sleep which I had not experienced since early menopause.I had checked my diet, upped the yoga and was enforcing rest periods. Too little too late. Autumn had been particularly stressful on a personal level and the dam just broke.I woke to find myself in Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, with no idea how I had got there, still with that headache and unable to coo-ordinate my limbs or initially to speak.I was being well cared for and found I had been catheterised so was completely on bed rest. Visitors arrived, I saw blurs.My friends reassured me that Jaime was looking after the business and they would help with everything else. All I could do was rest.I recall a visitor asking me if i knew who he was. I did, that was Rod from London which surprised me. In fact I had received many visitors even if I was unaware of them. I couldn’t use my phone properly never mind the internet so felt cut off inside and out.I dived within myself to scan what was going on and ‘saw’ pictures of healers I know. Knowing I was needing help I focussed to be as clear as i could about who I was and what I needed.It was a bit like opening a Facebook group I guess.Apparently I was heard, and Jaime contacted my healing mentor to tell him of my predicament and soon many were working to help me, from Greenland to the Philippines, each in their own way sending love and healing. It was quite incredible, I could feel this outpouring surround me. I felt calmer and cared for and the fears began to recede.Now the next step was memory recovery. I had no sense of time and mixed people and events up. I asked for my diaries to be brought in and slowly, as I was able to read again, I back-tracked on the preceding events, putting memory pictures into a timeline.
I began to hear external sound like the ward radio which played pap pop all day so the same songs recurred but annoyingly I didn’t recognise them at first. Repetition changed that, this has been the key to recovery. I have to experience things again to make sense of them than put memories to that experience. Little by little I’m joining the dots.
I began to be able to choose my own clothes, though most were new clothes that had been bought locally It seems, brought in by friends.For the last few months i have lived in leggings and T-shirts- easy pull on stuff: Pyjama like.Eventually I worked up to wearing my own dresses and washing and drying my hair: that felt like a milestone after having been bathed and babied. I began to gain a little privacy in the bathroom and had no need for a chair in the shower or to hold on to walls and supports. There was a period when I found myself walking into walls but that passed as co-ordination and spatial awareness was regained. I could feed myself and begin to choose my own food. it was apparent that no nursing staff had been told I prefer vegetarian food, so in QE I was fed chicken.Their food came in small easy to eat pieces (too much broccoli in it- that upsets my tum). I have no memory of Ayr Hospital where i was rushed on 18/3 at all. a month later I was (I’m told) blue-lighted to QE for scans and possible brain surgery. Again i cannot remember. I had deteriorated or something had changed to make them consider surgery. Scans at QE changed this to nursing care only and I remained in a 6 bed ward for a month, making friends with others also in a bad way. We supported each other, shared magazines, sweets, juice and trips to the TV room. I watched more Emmerdale than i ever wanted to.I also saw some bravery in adversity and kindness from the nursing and cleaning staff.Friends picked up my washing and returned it clean. Others visited, bringing fruit and chocolate and books.I was now able to read, had progressed beyond the Heat magazines which gave me a very skewed idea of how life is in the outside world and people’s priorities. Now bored, I attempted to use my phone to no avail, I was blocked out. My daughter brought a spare old phone so i logged in as Jaime Clarke to Facebook and caused ructions when folk thought Jaime was in hospital. We had to post an explanation that is was me.
Back home Jaime was faced with difficult decisions: running the cattery was more full on than she thought and she now had a job in Dundee. She made the decision to close the cattery for a while and refund folks’ deposits, starting anew when we could. She found foster homes for my pets: 5 hens went to an artist friend near Dailly, Jimi cat went through Pet Fostering Service Scotland to Kitty in Fife where he was thoroughly spoilt and joined her troupe of kitties, adapting well. Strider was more of a problem. he was kennelled then had a week in Foster but no-one else was available to care for him. I was not in a position to be asked for suggestions. Then an offer was made to rehome him and reluctantly that option had to be taken.I was under the impression he would still come home and became very distressed, having spent so much energy retraining him and having plans for him as Therapy dog.Now he lives elsewhere and I hope he is safe and happy there.I miss him. My progress meant I was relocated to rehab in Irvine, where I spent the next month, meeting more nice people in dire straits.Its humbling to see what folk go through and still come out kind and giving. In Irvine we shared clothes and books and purchasing trips to the coffee shop.Again not much to do: physio was offered and OTs assessed fitness. They soon ticked me off as doing well enough to not need their input. I cooked a meal in OT, my first vegetarian meal for months and so enjoyed that. I asked them to change my diet to veggie, gluten and lactose free.Trouble was that meant I got lots of boiled veg and little protein. I tried asking for a boiled egg salad but that wasn’t allowed. The only thing on offer was cheese and I can’t take that. Lentils were out as the kitchen’s supply was mixed with wheat. Mixed bean curries, well you can only eat so much of that. I called out to friends who brought Humous, marmite, peanut butter and Quorn products plus lactose free cheese. The dietician tried to help but the kitchen didn’t understand that kind of food.Every mealtime choice became stressful as they gave options that weren’t suitable, leaving me to ask them to create something evidently beyond their repertoire. Oddly, fruit was mostly canned in Irvine, whereas fresh fruit was always available at QE. How is canned fruit and custard nutritious?(I wasn’t allowed the custard as they wouldn make it with almond milk. There was a ward kitchen but I wasn’t allowed into it (H&S!) despite having proved to OT I could safely prepare food and use a kitchen. I had to find a nurse to give me what I had in the fridge.This didn’t help rehab- I couldn’t make my own cup of herbal tea and the ward only fed us caffeinated tea or coffee, not good for the heart.I became a tea jenny. Most help came from the cleaning staff who were sympathetic and knowledgable about the systems. By this time friends were taking me out of hospital to feed and exercise me and to let me get home to see what state home was in. It was sad seeing the cattery empty and seedbeds overgrown in the garden.I had missed the sowing season. My bees were going it alone but still there. I had the chance to try coping with my staircase. The hospital has few steps as many are in wheelchairs. One good thing in Irvine was the ward garden: In the end I just sat outside reading, whatever the weather. It was quieter than the ward with its bleeping alarms and loud TVs. After a month in Irvine I was declared fit, then another 2 weeks passed before my blood passed the INR clotting test and I was free to go. How odd, to be unconstrained by ward routine, lights on/off times, noise and meals. I returned to my own bed, which smelled peculiar being used to hospital, own pillows to plump- I’d become used to having many and the silence! I’d used earplugs on the ward though it wasn’t enough. Now the only night sound was an owl close by and occasional passing cars. Hospital is so noisy, no more than 5 hours sleep possible when 8 is recommended by sleep professionals.CatNaps were impossible too. Now I could rest. First issue was location of items: yes my memory was clouded but so much had been moved it was seriously confusing. I decided I just had to tackle one area at a time. and ask Jaime if she had or knew where items were. My bedside clock for instance, which I normally look at to monitor time was in Dundee. Little by little things were returned from safe storage, including Jimi! Lovely to have my cuddly cat to hug and he is good at monitoring me.Next was time: much of it was taken up by tidying and attending medical appointments. I’ve run the gamut of GP, INR at hospital, CAT scans, optician, now neurosurgeon and more blood tests in 3 hospitals meaning much travel, though to begin with I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to drive so Sheila kindly ran me about..My insurers and DVLA so far have been happy so I am free to be mobile. I just have to watch my energy levels and rest as often as i need. (Appointments permitting). I can ask for ambulance collection if i need and each week i get stronger, no longer needing this. Its been good to rebuild my protein levels and vitamins (I usually eat a lot of raw fruit and veg which was difficult on the ward). I’m keeping to a mainly vegan diet, following my cravings. SO far the blood tests are good and I am deemed miracle woman but I know the daily healing work and prayers are part of this. My writing and review of this material helps also.I was pleased to be able to reopen the cattery in June so go back to doing work that I knew and love: my first job was a cat grooming to test myself and my competence which went well though I was exhausted. There’s so much to focus on! I used to do all this by reflex. Every job requires thought and review. The summer cleaning load is huge with so many cats to fit in and can send me to ask for help. Looks like I shall have to ask for help quicker than i used to to avoid burnout or overload on my heart, so I can continue to love and care for much, much longer.
Thanks so much for all the good wishes and kind comments, they meant the world to me and helped me know i was loved too.

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